US Airways Club Charlotte
US Airways Envoy Class Charlotte to Paris
Hilton Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport
Star Alliance Lounge Paris
Air China Business Class Paris to Beijing
Air China Business Class Lounge Beijing
ANA 787 Business Class Beijing to Tokyo
Hilton Tokyo Narita Airport
Tokyo Narita Airport Hello Kitty Check-in
EVA Air Hello Kitty Business Class Tokyo to Taipei
EVA Air The Star Lounge Taipei
Taipei Airport Hello Kitty Gate
EVA Air Hello Kitty Royal Laurel Class Taipei to Los Angeles
While I hate remote stands, there’s something I sorta-kinda like about them when I’m getting off a heavy aircraft. There’s nothing quite as impressive as being able to stand on the tarmac next to a 777 and admire its sheer size.
There were two normal sized buses and three smaller “VIP” buses waiting on the tarmac, which I was thrilled to see. We initially got on the second bus only to find there were no seats left, so we instead boarded the third bus. There were only two other passengers in the bus, and it was actually rather comfortable.
This was hands down the longest bus drive I’ve ever taken from a remote stand. It must have been at least 15 minutes, and we had a pretty fast driver and didn’t stop once.
On the plus side, the planes were nice to look at.
Once we were dropped off at the terminal we took the escalator to the upper level.
Usually when you’re just transiting an airport enroute to a third country you just have to go through security and don’t have to clear immigration. Unfortunately at Beijing Airport you actually have to get your passport stamped. The queue took about 20 minutes to get through, which was a bit of a pain given that there’s no need for such formalities in virtually any other country.
Once that was complete we headed towards the security checkpoint. We picked a line, at which point one of the agents yelled “carry on, you go over there.” I asked for clarification, though that was the only phrase he seemed to know in English. I’m still not sure why we had to go to another line, because people in all lines had carry-ons.
By the time we were through immigration and security we only had about an hour till our flight to Tokyo Narita, so we headed to the Air China lounge.
While not designed all that practically, Beijing Airport is gorgeous architecturally.
The Air China lounge isn’t far from the main checkpoint, located at the top of an escalator.
We were quickly admitted, then began the rather ridiculous process of “registering” our passports with a kiosk in order to get a wifi code.
So looking at the pictures below I’ve come to realize that the lounge looks much nicer in pictures than it was… or at least nicer than I remember it to be. The way I remember it, the lounge felt a bit like a combination of a kitschy, cheap Thai restaurant, and the local Chinese herbal foot massage place I like to go to, at least in terms of the way it was decorated.
The lounge is “open air,” basically overlooking the terminal from one level up. It’s a huge lounge with plenty of seating.
In addition to the “normal” seating there was an entertainment area with some recliners facing a TV.
Best I could tell there also seemed to be two nap rooms. I say “seemed” because for one of the nap rooms the door was missing (well, it actually wasn’t missing, it was simply unhinged and standing next to the room), while for the other there was a notice that read “Disinfection.” Hmmm…
Then there was a dining area.
The lounge boasted nice tarmac views, including of the ANA 787 we’d be flying to Tokyo Narita.
The food spread in the lounge was certainly extensive, though none of it looked especially appetizing. There were a couple of buffets. One with cold options, and one with a combination of hot and cold options.
You know that one horrible all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet restaurant that every city in the US has, with a name like “Happy Panda” or something? Well, the hot food in the lounge looked equally appetizing.
We left the lounge at 2PM for our 2:45PM departure to Tokyo Narita. Our departure gate was about a 10 minute walk away, and the gate area wasn’t very crowded.
My friend and I had selected window seats behind one another since we had never flown the 787 before. I asked the gate agent if the seat next to me was empty (since the seatmap had looked totally empty a couple of days out). The agent typed for a while and eventually said “3C and 4C no one. But 3A and 4A not voice seats. I’m so sorry.” Not… voice seats?! Eventually I figured out she was trying to explain that it’s tough to talk to one another in those seats. Fair enough!
Boarding began at 2:15PM, and I couldn’t wait for my long overdue inaugural 787 flight, even if it was a regional configuration!